Current Institutional Affiliation
Associate Professor, Art History, Macalester College

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2008
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Art History, Duke University
Utopia/Dystopia: Japan's Image of the Manchurian Ideal

My dissertation expands and enriches the discourse of Japan's complex colonial relationship with Manchuria in the 1930s through an examination of how Japanese visual cultures produced in and about Manchuria imaged this vital region as a utopian space ripe for Japanese exploitation. I will examine the visual production of a utopian Manchuria through several different media. First, I will investigate the virtual space of photography and graphic magazines, with special emphasis upon renowned pictorialist photographer Fuchigami Hakuyo, his planning and editorial work for the graphic magazine Manshu Gurafu (Pictorial Manchuria), and the romanticized images produced by his colleagues of the Manchuria Photographic Association. Second, I will explore how these visual cultures informed exhibition practices, including Japan's Manchuria pavilion at the 1933 Chicago World's Fair. Lastly, I will examine how the material and conceptual space of urban planning became a site where high modernist idea ism of influential colonial figures such as Goto Shinpei converged with dystopic imperial practices. Ultimately, I will show how these different visual and spatial images intersected not only with each other and the Japanese imperial project but also with multifarious images of the lebensraum used in European reactionary politics. To expose this complex web of association, I will build upon Henri Lefebvre's socio-spatial theory which critiques space - graphically produced, built, mapped or lived through associated images and symbols - as an active, material site in the articulation of state power. In the course of my analysis, I will expose the inherent paradox of such cultural production, showing how such images and spaces emerged from a multi-faceted vision of Japan's idealized colonial relationship with Asia while obfuscating coercive, dystopic practices that accompanied Japanese imperial expansionism.